First Bornby Liza Porter
For Arcadia When she woke crying in the night I’d lift her out of the crib and hold on for dear life. Hers, mine, the whole world’s, the darkness of the stone cabin filled with the breath of all the other mothers I knew held their babies in the same way in the night’s silence— head on the crook of my arm, tiny mouth sucking at my breast, new eyes glowing hunger fire, all of us exhausted from the birthing days or months before, all of us feeding the bodies of the innocents, all of us madonnas. I marveled at the sound of the creek rushing behind the cabin and wondered if I could remember how to swim. I heard the rocks knock against each other on their way south, the same way her father and I slammed each other with cruel words, never finding the right ones to ride upstream to freedom. I rocked in a half-broken chair in the night, eyes closed, our slow back and forth the only movement in the room, while he slept on a bed in the corner oblivious to all but his own dreams. I wondered where we’d be the next day or next year, my plans to leave as newly formed as my daughter’s fingers and toes, our hazy future a specter hanging in the dark. Fall had come and with it rain and more rain, they said the creek might overflow its banks. I imagined the flood like the blood of being born, saw the two of us lifted out of the darkness in benevolent arms, and carried away to smoother waters, where she could grow and I could breathe slow and deliberate as new trees, and together we would watch the sun rise, its golden fire the torch that led us away from him, from there toward a new life.
Good-Bye Againby Liza Porter
Something is so right here. Yesterday There was so much light I couldn’t see. But now it’s the same and the scales Have fallen to the ground. I am not Trapped in dialogue with the dead. With you. Again. The one departed. I have blown all the words There are to blow, your skin now ashes, Your bones chips of scorched soul. Hey, Johnnie Ray, if I drink cheap beer behind Your apartment building where others Still shoot up and bleed, could I say this any better? Oh, Johnnie, giver of parables and tales of Waste, one in the long line of brothers Pushing the sky before their time. Jail Yarns are lost forever, except in a heart As halted as a red stop sign. Gone. Let’s look at the difference between self- Destruction and faith. The words That must’ve tumbled out of your mouth At last breath. At daybreak. Or sundown. The middle of a desert day is just as good A time to lay down at the feet of the Animal with no name. The myth of death. Do I do a disservice by crying one more time? The church bells still ring on the quarter hour. Their music calls to you, but It’s too late. Six months in the red vein Of a white eye, the pupil shrinks to nothing. Your eye. Your dry eye. © 2005 by Liza Porter. All rights reserved.